Young, Wild, and Gluten-Free
Chula Galvez (@chula.galvez) of Las Flores shares her AP-free baking secrets and pantry essentials
Dear cake friends,
Even though I'm immersed in all types of food daily, I still find myself at a loss for words when faced with some baker's creations. How did they think to pair guava and chamomile for a cheesecake? How did they get that meringue in the most delicate swirl? Where did they source those adorable edible flowers? These are the questions I ask myself when looking at the playful and innovative confections from Chula Galvez.
From Pavlova cakes topped with fresh fruit to brioche balls with cream, Chula's desserts are a sight for sore eyes—and are completely gluten-free. She describes her style of baking as a combination of "some Argentine nostalgia with a vast palate that has traveled all over the world." If you ever find yourself in Buenos Aires, Argentina you can enjoy her treats IRL at her bakery and restaurant Las Flores, created with her partner Santiago Perez and biologist Joaquin Ais and Pablo Moroni.
We're thrilled to have Chula as a guest on this week's Just a Bite to learn more about the magic behind her gluten-free delights. —Dominique Evans, social media editor
You’re making dessert. What is it?
If I have to make a dessert for dinner, normally I don't have a lot of time to prep.
My best easy and quick dessert is pavlova: Egg whites, powdered sugar and some flavor from a fruit of flower powder I can find at home (hibiscus, cocoa, acai, rose, chamomile, etc). Whipped cream on top and some fresh fruits from the market. Everyone loves pavlova.
Another dessert I love making that is very delicious and easy is to roast a fruit in the oven (depending on the season, could be peach, pears, apples, pineapple, banana) with sugar, ginger, cinnamon, thyme, or whichever spice I can find at home. Then I serve it with a yogurt cream or some ice cream, toasted nuts like pistachios and maple syrup or honey.
Someone is making you a dessert. What do you ask for?
There's a classic cake in Argentina named "chocotorta" which is very easy to make and so delicious. There's no real birthday in Argentina without this cake. It's basically layers of chocolate cookies (here we make it with this cookie brand named CHOCOLINAS) soaked in coffee or milk, with a filling made of dulce de leche and sour cream. On top I like covering it with dark chocolate. You normally have to prepare it one day in advance, so the cake is cold and the cookies are soft. My mum always makes it for my birthday and she covers the cake with M&M.
You’ve transformed into a pastry. What are you and how are you consumed?
Love this question. We joke sometimes with my pasty team and think which pasty we would be. I am a sablée tart filled with dulce de leche, vanilla and lemon custard and raspberries on top. I would like to be consumed at tea time, with a nice tea pot filled with Earl Grey with honey.
What fictional dessert scene will you never forget?
In the movie "My Blueberry Nights," where she eats the blueberry pie. So tempting. I've been obsessed with making really good blueberry pies at Las Flores (when its blueberries season).
What is a baking hack you can’t live without?
I love using an espresso coffee tamper to smash the cheesecake cookies base
As I couldn't find a super big bowl to mix large amounts of cake batter for my restaurant in Buenos Aires, I discovered that a basin is a great super bowl :)
What is your approach to gluten-free baking?
I have been baking gluten-free since I was determined to be gluten intolerant three years ago. Las Flores, the restaurant we created with my boyfriend Santiago Perez (chef) and biologist Joaquin Ais, is 100% gluten free. At first, I thought it was going to be more difficult to create good pastries with this "limit."I was amazed with the results we had, and the amount of new ingredients discovered because of this gluten limit. Sometimes we think that pastries and bread are only limited to wheat, but if you look outside, there is a super rich world: rice, buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, millet, corn, potato, tapioca, etc.
What are some of your go-to gluten-free baking pantry essentials?
Brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, any nut flour, eggs, organic sugar, olive oil or butter, and fresh fruits.
Follow Chula on Instagram: @chula.galvez
Consume right now:
Listen: Avalon Emerson’s new album, & the Charm. Great for baking, great for walking, great for dancing.
Read: A new cake cookbook from Clare Ptak, of the iconic Violet Bakery in London.